The Scuf Instinct Pro joins a very healthy and competitive scene in the world of Xbox controllers, with multiple brands releasing new Xbox Series X-compatible models. Razer's new Wolverines have provided cheaper alternatives to Microsoft's Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 and as our glowing Turtle Beach Recon Controller review attests, even the headset specialists are getting involved.
Scuf has established itself in recent years as a brand aiming for pro gamers or the more hardcore crowd looking to gain an advantage against their multiplayer opponents. The controllers, including the new Scuf Instinct Pro, are essentially modified versions of the official console's controller, and as such, look extremely similar at a glance, but as the enormous price tags attest, there's a lot more going on here than it seems.
Let's talk about that price, though. As things stand, you can only buy these controllers from the official Scuf website, as you are able to customize your own specific model with multiple cosmetic practical parts. The cheapest version of the Scuf Instinct Pro starts at, $199.99/£189.99, but as you go through the multiple customization options on Scuf's site, the prices start to shoot up even higher.
Colored faceplates (black or white are free) start at $9.99 and go up to $19.99 for the fancier designs. Different colors of text on the face buttons is another $9.99. You can choose short or long, concave or domed, analogs at no extra charge, but it's an extra $4.99 to choose a color. Picking a different color for the plastic ring around the analog hole is cheap at $1.99 per ring.
You can ditch the standard D-pad for something a bit rounder (calling all fighter fans), which is free unless you want to chuck in an extra $4.99 for color. You're looking at $9.99 for a pair of colored bumpers and the same again for triggers. There are lots of choices for faceplates, but a surprisingly small selection for the other parts. You can choose to pay another $3.99 to have the vibration motors removed too.
As you can imagine, it's very easy to send that cost rocketing past $250. These prices really start to defy belief when you can hop on over to Microsoft's Design Lab website and modify even more parts of the standard Xbox Series X controller with an even wider range of colors for a very appealing £59.99/£69.99 all in.
But the Scuf Instinct Pro isn't aiming at your average gamer. It's very much on the hardcore end of the market, especially anyone thinking of going pro for anything in the shooter category.
Outside of the various analogs on offer, other selectable modifications remain cosmetic. But all models of the Scuf Instinct Pro feature the same extra features, so if you want to save a lot of money and just opt for the standard black model, you're not missing out on any performance enhancements.
The new rubber grip on the rear of the handles is excellent and should help avoid accidental clicks of the new underside buttons. Speaking of which, these discrete buttons are a little different from those seen on the Elite Series 2, or Razer's fancier controllers.
The P1 and P4 keys are the easiest to access and work well with more urgent inputs like jumping. The P2 and P3 buttons can be accessed with the same middle finger in a sideways motion, essentially using the side of the finger's joint to activate it rather than the tip. It takes a little getting used to, and I'd avoid assigning jump/crouch actions to it just in case you don't quite hit it in time as it does feel like you have to 'travel' a bit more to hit it than the other underside button. But for reloading, activating items, and the like, it's a neat way of keeping your thumbs on the analogs.
Overall, the layout of these extra buttons really works and feel easy enough to reach, but not so much that I'm constantly accidentally hitting them because there are limited ways in which you can hold the controller - an issue I sometimes have with the Elite series. Of course, I do still accidentally press them every time I plop myself down on the couch with the controller though - standard.
If you've had any sort of 'pro' controller before and often end up forgetting to use the underside buttons, then you might be wondering what else the Scuf Instinct Pro can offer you. Well, if you're a shooter fan looking for an edge, you'll find arguably the best triggers in the business right here.
They might look like they've been untouched from the original Xbox design, but a new pair of switches on the back allow you to lock them in. We're not merely talking various stages of reduced depth, but really locked in, to such an extent that it turns the trigger into a mouse click-like response.
We've had trigger locks before on controllers, but they always leave quite a lot of physical travel before bottoming out and that's just gone here. Yes, the Elite series allows you to use software to adjust the actuation, or biting point, of a trigger to make it perform the action from the lightest of touches, but you still have that travel distance.
The new mouse-click effect might not feel as satisfying as a trigger pull, but when you can bring up your sites and fire with such speed, it feels like you never want to go back to not having it.
Of course, if you need the depth and gentler incremental inputs, as you would for braking/accelerating in Forza Horizon, you'll want to switch the triggers back to normal. For shooters though, this could be the game-changer you've been looking for.
With mouse-clicky triggers though, I'm incredibly disappointed to see the same treatment hasn't been extended to the controller's face buttons (X, Y, A, B). Given the Elite and latest Wolverine controllers have them as standard, it's baffling that you don't get them here considering the price of the controller. If you're mainly buying this for shooters and are planning on using the underside buttons instead of the face ones, then it won't be as much of an issue for you. You can save multiple profiles for different games or genres. There are racing and shooter presets, but you're free to remap to taste.
You should also know that the Scuf Instinct Pro isn't compatible with most third-party battery packs. So you'll need to use the official Microsoft one, or use AA batteries unless you attach the included USB cable. Compared to the Elite Series 2 from Microsoft, you're losing out on really being able to fine-tune the responsiveness, dead zones, and even the tension of the controller's analogs. Again, for the price, it feels a bit on the basic side.
Should you buy the Scuf Instinct Pro controller?
You'll need to be seriously into your shooter titles in order to get close to justifying spending this much money on an Xbox pad or PC controller for gaming. Those mouse-click triggers are brutally efficient and clearly the best feature of the Scuf Instinct Pro. The customization options and build quality is excellent, but the lack of clicky face buttons is an odd omission for a pro-level controller.